England rugby insiders have been left shocked by an emerging star’s decision to turn his back on Tests to play club footy in France instead. Henry Arundell, who exploded onto the Test scene last year in Australia with a try on debut in Perth and added five in one match at the World Cup, has opted to sign a contract extension with Racing 92 that will prevent him representing England until the end of 2026. According to his agent, Arundell has been generating constant interest, even from NRL clubs, but has not entertained or considered these opportunities. He is excited for the remainder of the season with Racing – and hopefully with England.”

Arundell joined Racing 92 after the financial collapse of London Irish and would have been given clearance to play for England in the Six Nations if he signed a contract with a British club before then for after the current season, but he has chosen to stay in France. Racing president Laurent Travers stated, “He fits perfectly into the club’s short and medium-term objectives and has already demonstrated all these qualities of a great competitor and great maturity.” This decision has raised eyebrows in his homeland, as former England player Chris Ashton expressed doubt about the wisdom of this choice. Former England winger Ugo Monye also questioned the call, stating, “The steps from domestic to European to international are significant, and the game at the international level is wildly different from club.” According to The Times, Premiership side Bath and the RFU tabled an offer which would have made Arundell the first England player to take a new ‘hybrid contract’ but he rejected it.

Te’ufaiva Stadium in Nuku’alofa will host Moana Pasifika’s first-ever game in Tonga – when they face the Highlanders on May 4. The Auckland-based club will be hoping for a similar injection as seen with Fiji, who have been very hard to beat at home. Tonga Rugby Union president and Prime Minister’s Joint Statement expressed hope for continued Rugby support within the Kingdom of Tonga.

Nineteen of Moana Pasifika’s squad of 38 are of Tongan descent, including former Wallaby Sekope Kepu. TRU managing director Aisea Aholelei said: “It has been a long-overdue event in the hearts and minds of locals to host Super Rugby Pacific, because of the prominence of Tongan players in Super Rugby and in Moana Pasifika.” Moana Pasifika chairman Michael Jones added, “Our Tongan people are some of the most passionate and loyal supporters. They deserve this fixture being played on home soil and to have the opportunity to watch their Moana Pasifika rugby heroes representing them live at their beloved Teufaiva Stadium. For us, this game is about opportunity and hope. We want to build on the excellent momentum of the ‘Ikale Tahi made of late, particularly at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.”

By admin